July 26, 2006

Thursday triumphant

NYT 4:05
LAT 3:52
NYS 3:46
CS 3:29

The marquee puzzle for the month [edited from the original "day"] is Ethan Friedman's NYT. Sure, the general concept isn't completely original, but dayumn! Didn't he pull it off nicely? Yes, he did. And it was a particularly fun crossword to solve. (Spoilers comin' right up—don't click below until you've done this puzzle!)

The constructor uses the same general trick that Jeremiah Farrell used in the famous movie-star crossword, the 1996 Election Day CLINTON/BOB DOLE puzzle—which Patrick Berry also played with in his June 30 Chronicle of Higher Ed puzzle. In the current puzzle, Ethan pairs EMPEROR PENGUINS with DAILY NEWSPAPERS (could've also been CROSSWORD PUZZLE, but those Z's might've made filling the grid too hard) and then has two possible answers for 46-Across, BLACK or WHITE, with the crossing clues doing double duty. ("Had on one's back" = WORE or BORE; "Not open" = SHY or SLY; "Skewer" = PIN or PAN; "Home, for one" = PLATE or PLACE; and "Construction site sights" = CRANES or CRANKS.) The gimmick is pointed out with the answer opposite from 46-Across, the word TWICE, clued as "How 46-Across can be answered." Throw in fill like PIT BOSS, MENTOS, and WOULD I LIE, and you've got yourself a helluva puzzle (one that certainly excuses the dull word DESEED). And if you knew SPANDREL but thought to yourself, "What is that exactly"?—here are some pictures.

This week's Themeless Thursday in the Sun is by Patrick Jordan. Great Scrabbly 15's joined by LETTERBOX, plus interesting words like CALUMET (this word for a Native American pipe has a Greek root, implausibly enough), TOM THUMB, and THE NERVE. I found it surprisingly easy, though—not enough wickedly elusive clues for my taste. (I know, I know, it's a Themeless Thursday and not a Weekend Warrior.)